Best Rubbermaid Coolers

Updated April 2021
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

40 Models Considered
20 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
76 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Rubbermaid coolers

A staple of any tailgate party, backyard barbeque, or camping trip is a cooler. Keeping drinks and some foods adequately chilled is necessary for any outdoor excursion. You might not use a cooler frequently, but it’s an item most households should have. It’s invaluable during the warmer months if you enjoy picnics, beach parties, and other outdoor activities.

Founded in the United States in 1920, Rubbermaid has become synonymous with useful household products at a reasonable price, and it’s one of the leading manufacturers of home storage and organization solutions, including high-quality, durable coolers. Its coolers come in a range of sizes with a variety of convenient features for different purposes.

It’s important that you find a cooler to match your needs that isn’t too small or too bulky. Our buying guide discusses the coolers Rubbermaid offers, what to look for as you shop, and answers some common questions about coolers. If you already know what you need, check out our recommendations above.

Rubbermaid coolers1
You won’t find a lot of color options when it comes to coolers: the sides might be red or blue, but all the lids are white. That’s because white absorbs less heat than dark colors, which helps keep the contents cool.

Key considerations

Type

Rubbermaid makes four types of coolers. Though three of them are fairly similar, there are some key differences that influence use and price.

Wheeled coolers: These popular coolers have wheels and handles for easy transport. In addition to side handles for lifting, they also have a large, retractable handle that enables you to easily roll the cooler like a suitcase. The durable wheels are made for traversing pavement, grass, and dirt.

Non-wheeled coolers: These coolers have handles but no wheels. Some are small enough that one person can carry one, and these hold enough food and drinks for a couple people. Larger ones, when full, require two people to carry.

Water coolers: These coolers are designed to chill and dispense beverages, such as iced tea or sports drinks, and are often used at parties and other outdoor gatherings, such as sporting events. These coolers are not for use with beer — it will quickly go flat — or hot water or coffee, because the heat can ruin the insulation.

Marine coolers: These coolers are designed with boating in mind. These heavy-duty coolers have extra-thick insulation that can keep ice cold for up to seven days. In addition to food and drinks, these coolers can be used to store fish as well. These are among the largest and priciest coolers Rubbermaid makes.

Size

The size of Rubbermaid coolers designed for drinks and food is measured in quarts. There is a wide range, from 5 to 75 and even 150 quarts. When considering the size of the cooler you need, think about the number of people you want to serve at any given event, the number of drinks per person, and the size of any other items that you want to carry in the cooler. You might have cans and bottles of various sizes, as well as food in plastic packaging for camping or picnicking.

Rubbermaid water coolers are measured in gallons, with options ranging from 1 to 10 gallons.

Weight

Empty Rubbermaid coolers are fairly light, but when filled with beverages and ice they can be very heavy. If possible, try to fill the cooler close to where you want to use it. If you’re tailgating or camping, you’ll almost certainly need two people to lift the cooler out of your vehicle and carry it.

Rubbermaid typically tells you the number of cans that a cooler can hold. While this calculation is a good rule of thumb, keep in mind that cans vary in size, and you might include items of other sizes too.

STAFF
BestReviews

Features

Cups

Cupholders: Some Rubbermaid coolers have two to four cupholders on the lid to provide a convenient place to rest your drink. They accommodate most standard can sizes.

Cup dispenser: Rubbermaid water coolers allow for the attachment of a cup dispenser, and one might be included in the purchase. This holder is only compatible with small paper or plastic cups, but it does provide some convenience, saving space and potential hassle if it’s a windy day.

Split lid

Certain larger Rubbermaid coolers allow you to open just one part of the lid rather than the whole top. This lets less cold air out and less warm air in, which helps when you’re trying to keep all your items cool.

Drain tap

Some larger coolers have a spigot near the bottom that can be opened to empty out the water from melted ice. Even without cans or bottles, a cooler filled with water is very heavy, which can make tipping it over difficult and awkward. While using the drain tap to completely empty the cooler may take time, you can use it to drain just enough water so the cooler is easier to move and tip over.

Storage

You can use a cooler to store other items when you’re not using it for its primary function. In a garage or shed, it can hold sporting equipment, apparel, and outdoor gear. Be careful about scratching or damaging the inside of the cooler, and avoid leaving the cooler in the sun for prolonged periods of time.

Rubbermaid coolers2
DID YOU KNOW?
Add some rock salt on top of the ice. The salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, helping the ice last longer.
STAFF
BestReviews

Accessories

Beverage sleeve: Swig Life Beverage Sleeve
Keep your hand warm and your beverage can or bottle chilled with one of these double-walled stainless steel sleeves. It comes in lots of fun colors and patterns too.

Bottle opener: QLL Bottle Openers
For those who prefer beverages in bottles, you’ll need a bottle opener. We recommend this stainless steel, rubber-coated set of three from QLL that comes at a very reasonable price.

Rubbermaid cooler prices

Inexpensive: For less than $20, you can find smaller Rubbermaid coolers without wheels.

Mid-range: Most Rubbermaid coolers cost between $20 and $50. These may have wheels and range in size up to around 30 quarts.

Expensive: The largest Rubbermaid coolers cost $50 to $100.

Ice shards and cubes can get in between items to keep them cool, but their increased surface area means they melt more quickly. You can supplement ice with some ice packs to keep items cold.

STAFF
BestReviews

Tips

  • Add the ice last. Cold air sinks, so to keep your food and beverages cold, put them in the cooler first and add the ice on top.
  • Don’t empty out the cold water. The ice in your cooler will gradually melt, but the cold water is still effective. It’s better to keep the cold water in the cooler rather than drain it and fill the cooler with warm air.
  • Keep the contents organized. If you know where the items are inside the cooler, you can quickly open and close the lid, which helps keep the cold air inside.
  • Pre-chill your items. Keeping your beverages and food in the refrigerator or freezer before you put them in the cooler will increase the effectiveness of the cooler.
Rubbermaid coolers3
In addition to pre-chilling your food and beverages, you should also pre-chill your cooler if possible. A cooler stored in a hot, humid garage will take longer to cool its contents.

FAQ

Q. How do I clean my Rubbermaid cooler?

A. Most Rubbermaid coolers are advertised as stain and odor resistant, but It’s advised that you clean your cooler after each use to avoid any buildup of bacteria or unpleasant odors that could affect the contents in the future. To clean your empty cooler, use a mixture of warm water and dish soap or baking soda. Allow the interior to soak for a while before emptying the water and air-drying the cooler or wiping it out with a cloth. You don’t want to leave any moisture inside the cooler.

Q. How much ice do I need to keep the contents cool?

A. It’s generally recommended that you use about a pound of ice for every quart of cooler space available, or a two-to-one ratio of ice to contents. What’s especially important is to avoid any gaps: fill the entire cooler with ice. Any air pockets in the cooler will speed up the melting of the ice. If filling the cooler to the top with ice makes the cooler too heavy, you can fill the top with paper towels or newspapers.

Q. How long does a cooler keep items cold?

A. Depending on how efficiently you pack the items and ice together, and provided you don’t leave the lid open for long periods, the contents can stay cool in a Rubbermaid cooler for a few days. High-end, marine coolers can keep the contents chilled for up to a week. Note that this is under ideal conditions, however. In most cases, you can expect to keep the contents fresh and chilled for a day.

 

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
See more

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey

Our Top Picks